Category Archives: Ephemera

Howe to Prolong a War

The British defeat at Saratoga…in October of 1777 was clearly the turning point of the Revolutionary War.  The surrender of an entire British army finally brought the French recognition and aid the Americans desperately needed.  The defeat also put tremendous pressure on the administration of Lord North and its failing war policies.  What is often overlooked is how close the war came to ending following Burgoyne’s surrender.  Just days before Saratoga, Washington’s army had launched a surprise attack on Sir William Howe’s army near the sleepy village of Germantown, Penna.  Two crushing defeats, nearly on top of one another, would have surely spelled the end of  the North ministry.  His replacement would have pursued resolution.

 

Fighting an increasingly unpopular war

The British forces and Germantown never expected… Washington’s bold stroke.  Just three weeks earlier, the redcoats routed the Americans at Brandywine, the largest battle of the war.  British commander Sir William Howe was not expecting an attack as his forces rested on the outskirts of Germantown.  The battle that occurred on October 4, 1777 could have helped end the Revolution…..The British survived:

British stubbornly defend the Chew House

  • Fog blanketed much of the field that morning, obscuring vital marching routes and confusing commanders on both sides.
  • Washington’s plans were complex, too complex for his poorly trained army.  His forces had to advance 16 miles on a night march in four separate columns.  Orders were confused, troops became lost, and the attacks were not coordinated.
  • At a pivotal moment early in the fighting, General Howe personally rallied his retreating troops, and was nearly killed by American artillery.
  • Significant confusion led to a destructive round of friendly fire, which forced Washington’s men to disengage at the British center.
  • British reinforcements were able to exploit the American disorder and drive the Continentals from the field.

Washington’s audacity at Germantown… attacking a numerically superior foe, just weeks after suffering a serious defeat, did not go unnoticed in Europe.  The French were every bit as impressed by Washington’s near victory in Pennsylvania, as they were by the British surrender in New York.

Washington’s nemesis

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Guilt by Association

“You will Do well to try to inoculate the Indians, by means of Blankets, as well as to Try Every other Method, that can Serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race. — I should be very glad [if] your Scheme for Hunting them down by Dogs could take Effect; but England is at too great a Distance to think that at present.”  Lord Jeffrey Amherst to Colonel Henry Bouquet- July 16, 1763. 

Let the Yanks take all the blame...

Let the Yanks take all the blame…

A small passage from an insignificant letter…from the Royal Governor of North America to a soldier under his command during Pontiac’s Rebellion- its ramifications are infamous.  The astoundingly befuddled plans of two British officers(most North Americans had already been exposed) has been inexplicably  linked  to American Indian policy of the late 19th century.  There is not a scrap of evidence that any US officer advocated using biological warfare against any Indian nation; yet, popular sentiment holds it as an indisputable fact.  Our government committed many wrongs in its dealings with American Indians- this is not one of them.

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Often Repeated- Never True

Despite the fraudulent efforts of academic hucksters like… the resoundingly discredited Ward Churchill  – there is still no evidence that the US government ever tried to infect American Indians with smallpox.  As stated in a previous post, the myth of the smallpox blankets stems from a British, not American plan- an unsuccessful plan all-the-same.  Churchill manipulates this myth into his misguided and perverse theory that the United States committed genocide against American Indians.  The core of his argument is the 1837 outbreak among the Mandan tribe near Fort Clark- according to Churchill, the US Army shipped quarantined blankets from St. Louis to Fort Clark and then distributed them to the Mandan.

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Now about that pesky historical evidence-

  • Fort Clark was not a US military post- it was owned and operated by a private fur trading company.
  • There were no US military personnel within 800 miles of Fort Clark in 1837
  • There is no evidence of US Army blankets infected with smallpox at St. Louis(or any post.)
  • None of the witnesses- including an Indian Affairs agent – distributed blankets to the tribe.
  • All of the witnesses record the same event- a Mandan sneaking onto a steamer with sick passengers and stealing a blanket.  Churchill never acknowledges this event despite its prominence in the historical record.
  • Nearly all scholars agree- the 1837 outbreak was likely caused by human-human contact and not airborne transmissions from blankets(there is evidence of Mandans socializing with some of the infected passengers.)
Devaluing the term "genocide" since 1978

Devaluing the term “genocide” since 1978

Hucksters have a story to sell and books to peddle… even if that means falsifying sources, fabricating evidence, and creating historical figures – all to push a political agenda.  There are still academics who defend him and see him as a hero of academic freedom. Protecting free speech and academic freedom is a noble(and necessary) endeavor, but Ward Churchill is a spurious choice for such an important cause.

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Terror at Home

The assassination of William McKinley by an anarchist… was still fresh in the minds of the US Justice Dept.  The triumph of the Bolsheviks in 1917 prompted radicals in America to step up their campaign of violence.  Anarchists agitated through organized labor and started a campaign of violence not seen since the end of the Civil War.

Domestic enemies everywhere

Domestic enemies everywhere

April, May, and June of 1919 was a time of terror… from a foreign threat hiding among us.  Eastern European radicals first sent 30 letter bombs to businessmen and law enforcement officers  around the country, killing two people.  In June, the anarchists struck again, placing packaged bombs at the homes of government officials, including Attorney General, A. Mitchell Palmer.  Two more people were killed- flyers were distributed around the country declaring war on capitalism.  The American people demanded action.

Come_unto_me,_ye_opprest

Palmer responded by setting into motion… the newly created investigative bureau, headed by 24 year old J. Edgar Hoover.  The orders were simple- find the radicals, arrest and deport them.  Hoover launched sweeping raids in 23 states.  Over 3000 people were arrested, many without warrants or indictments.  Communist organizers, Eastern Europeans, and union agitators were targeted.  As the raids grew in intensity, critics emerged to challenge their constitutionality.  By 1920, the public seemed to lose interest in combating the terror threat posed by the anarchists.

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Palmer once was considered a Presidential hopeful… but the raids ultimately cost him his political career.  American public opinion turned against the heavy handed tactics of Hoover’s FBI, despite the threat still posed by anarchists.  This was clearly on display during the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1920- Two self-confessed anarchists tried for murder and robbery, and public opinion was decidedly against the government’s case.   The violence continued with little public outcry….

 

 

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On Education

We celebrate the birth of Samuel Adams by expressing his desire for an educated electorate…  Not the kind of rabble easily fooled by demagogues manipulating fear and emotion– the masses of people able to discern and decide on their own, using sound minds and commendable judgements.

The said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of The United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”

“Let Divines, and Philosophers, Statesmen and Patriots unite their endeavours to renovate the Age, by impressing the Minds of Men with the importance of educating their little boys, and girls — of inculcating in the Minds of youth the fear, and Love of the Deity, and universal Phylanthropy; and in subordination to these great principles, the Love of their Country — of instructing them in the Art of self government, without which they never can act a wise part in the Government of Societies great, or small…”  1790

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The American Spirit

Madison argues that oligarchy is difficult in America because of our size and diversity… but critics consistently cited the House of Representatives as the most susceptible institution in the new government.

james-madison

Anti-Federalists argued that the Representatives would have the least amount of sympathy… with the masses of people; focusing exclusively on the narrow interests of their few electors, ignoring the will of the majority.  Madison first counters with a historical analysis of the British system and the necessary role of states in the Federal system.  But he concludes his argument in Federalist #57 by appealing to what he describes as the American Spirit:

 

“If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America — a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.”

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On Tariffs

Globalism and free trade have been US policy since the Reagan administration… Donald Trump attempts to turn back the clock on trade policies- his critics are quick to attack any position he takes.  America has a long tradition of protective trade policies, but Trump’s critics are unwilling to acknowledge the historical context.

Listen to this rap

Before rapping about his life on Broadway… Alexander Hamilton was one of the earliest advocates for protectionist trade policies.  Hamilton considered tariffs an essential part of government investment in economic growth.  He did not want the United States to remain a tiny agricultural nation beholden to the European grain markets.  Protecting our young industry was an important first step.  Hamilton argued:

“Taxes are never welcome to a community, [but] an increase of duties shall tend to second and aid this spirit [of manufacturing], they will serve to promote essentially the industry, the wealth, the strength, the independence, and the substantial prosperity of the country.”  1791

Strangest bedfellows

Alexander Hamilton and Donald Trump sharing tariff policies?….  I’m not sure the crowds at Hamilton!  the musical will approve this political alliance.

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